Issue 6 - July 6, 2009 enews homee

University targets online tools teaching

IDL technology in action as Richard Waring links four CDU campuses

By Jason McIntosh

Engaging and interactive online learning tools will form a key part of a three-year, $10 million program to improve the quality of teaching and learning at Charles Darwin University.

Speaking after a live demonstration of Interactive Distance Learning (IDL), CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover said the technology would be important to the university’s expansion.

“The demonstration illustrates the scope of new learning systems to enhance educational delivery to remote communities and this type of technology will be spread broadly across staff and students,” he said.

Professor Glover joined other CDU senior managers in a live link-up between four of the university’s campuses across the Territory, using intuitive hands-on software called React.

React, or Remote Educational and Conferencing Tool, provides teachers with a full classroom experience. A typical session can have a video of 10 students simultaneously displayed in front of the teacher, who can also use traditional tools such as word documents and Power Points in their teaching.

Three different presentation set-ups were demonstrated at the regional campuses, including the custom studio, open office using a headset and closed office using a desktop microphone and speaker.

A new $130,000 Alice Springs based IDL studio, which will be launched later this year, was also featured.

IDL architect Richard Waring said the technology was a powerful and easy-to-use tool designed to help lecturers.

"Anyone with fast broadband internet access and a computer can tap into quality knowledge and that includes bush communities that will soon benefit from faster broadband access," he said.

CDU’s IDL uses the same software and satellite technology as the Northern Territory Government’s School of the Air. Remote bush communities could also access this same technology using relocatable satellite dishes and the university’s truck-delivered mobile adult learning classrooms.

The university received funding for the studio under the Clever Networks Broadband Connect program, part of the Federal Department of Community Technology and the Arts in 2007.